CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
Pollen: What Makes Us Sneeze
The middle of April is officially the peak of tree pollen season. You can visibly see the pollen at times, but the pollen that affects us is much smaller than what we see. Time to raise your Pollen IQ.
Trees, grasses, and weeds all pollinate, and these tiny particles are lifted into the air. And if you have an allergy to any of these it usually leads to those epic sneezes that we all love so much.
When pollen gets into your nose, your immune system sees this foreign body as a threat. This causes the release of a chemical called histamine. Histamines tell your brain it is time to sneeze to get that pollen out! So that is why we take anti-histamines to ease our sneezes.
But the pollen we see on our cars and pretty much everything around us, or the big chunks like this that fall from trees is not what causes us to sneeze. That pollen is invisible to the human eye.
The particles that make us sneeze when the concentration is too high, are microscopic.
When it comes to pollen: Different plants have different seasons
Tree pollen rises in March, peaks in April and then declines rapidly at the end of May in the Carolinas.
Grass pollen levels never get overly high but have two peaks. One in late spring and another in early fall.
As for weeds, it's really only ragweed that has a prevalent season. Spiking in late summer and early fall. This allergen places second to tree pollen.
Weather also controls pollen levels
Dry and windy days mean more allergy medicine, while a wet and rainy day can briefly decrease the amount of pollen in the air. However, this rain can then aid the growth of more pollen!
As for the best time of day, it depends
Ragweed and tree pollen counts usually peak around midday, while grass pollen counts are highest in the late afternoon into the early evening.
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